© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
Bantam AA Crushers head coach Mike O’Hearn and Scotsbrun Major Bantam Crushers head coach Richard White address their teams prior to a team dinner Wednesday night at Summer Street Industries to kickoff the Bantam Memorial Tournament week.
PICTOU COUNTY – The 29th Annual Bantam Memorial Tournament gets underway today with the Bantam AA Crushers and Scotsburn Major Bantam Crushers taking to the ice this afternoon.
The tournament, held each year in memory of Donald Gladwin, John Allan MacDonald, and Shawn and Lee Marie MacKay, was organized to honour their memory in 1985. Over the past 28 years hundreds of kids have played in the tournament and this year another large group will be involved for the first time, learning about the meaning behind the tournament, while having the opportunity to play in a major tournament at home.
Reed MacDonald, co-captain for the Bantam AA Crushers, has participated in the event before. He said it’s a big deal to him and his team to take part.
“This means a lot to the area and to our team,” he said. “With it being our home tournament we want to make our town proud by doing well since we’ll be in front of people from our hometown.”
Scotsburn Major Bantam Crushers captain Matt Sartoris shared a similar sentiment having been involved with the tournament before.
“There’s a lot of meaning behind this tournament and our coaches make sure to tell us about that,” he said. “We want to play well and represent Pictou County well because of that.”
Although the captains and players from each team realize the meaning behind the tournament they also realize they have some tough competition ahead of them. For the Scotsburn Crushers their round-robin games also count towards the NSMBHL standings.
Sartoris said the team needs to use this weekend to build toward the playoffs and that it will be a good indication of how they will finish the year.
“We need to use the memorial tournament to bounce back from how we did in P.E.I.,” he said. “As the season wraps up we need to end on a good note heading into playoffs because it will set the tone for how we finish. This weekend will be all about mental preparation and if our heads aren’t in it we will fall apart, but if we’re on the same page we will play better and have a strong finish.”
For the Bantam AA Crushers they want to use this tournament to improve before their season also comes to a close. Co-captain Justin Walsh said that the team has been busy working on things in practice in preparation for the tournament in particular.
“We’ve been focused a lot on defensive zone coverage and our breakouts lately, which we hope to do well this weekend,” he said. “Lately we’ve also been doing a lot more skating in practice to get conditioned for the tournament. We normally do skating as part of practice obviously, but it has been more the last month.”
For the first time in the history of the tournament it will take place at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. While the Bantam AA Crushers’ captains are looking forward to the new venue, Sartoris said he’ll miss playing in Trenton and the John Brother MacDonald Stadium.
“I prefer the JBM, where we’ve held it in the past,” said Sartoris. “They are smaller rinks and I find the crowd is more into it.”
The Bantam AA Crushers open the tournament against Antigonish at 2:30 p.m. today at the Wellness Centre, while the Scotsburn Crushers take on Newbridge at 4 p.m. at the JBM.
Tournament passes are available for $15, while daily passes are $5. There is no charge for students.
Chris will be at the tournament throughout the weekend uploading photo galleries and posting updates to ngnews.ca. You can also follow him on Twitter, @NGNewsChris or #BantamMemorial for updates.
Thursday, Feb. 14
2:30 p.m. Bantam AA: Antigonish vs. Pictou County (Wellness Centre)
4 p.m. Maj. Bantam: Newbridge vs. Scotsburn (JBM)
Friday, Feb. 15
4 p.m. Maj. Bantam: Scotsburn vs. Truro (Main)
6 p.m. Opening Ceremonies
6:30 p.m. Bantam AA: Pictou County vs. Northside
Saturday, Feb. 16
3:30 p.m. Bantam AA: West Hants vs. Pictou County
5 p.m. Maj. Bantam: Kings Mutual vs. Scotsburn
Sunday, Feb. 17
9 a.m. Bantam AA: 1st Pool A vs. 2nd Pool B (main)
9 a.m. Bantam AA: 1st Pool B vs. 2nd Pool A (aux)
10:30 a.m. Maj. Bantam: 1st Pool C vs. 1st Pool D (main)
10:30 a.m. Maj. Bantam: 1st Pool E vs. Wildcard (aux)
1 p.m. Bantam AA Championship (main)
3 p.m. Major Bantam Championship (main)
*All Friday, Saturday and Sunday games will be played at the Wellness Centre